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Sen. Bernie Sanders speaks to striking workers

U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) speaks to striking Kellogg's workers in downtown Battle Creek, Michigan, on December 17, 2021. (Photo: Seth Herald / AFP via Getty Images)

Bernie Sanders Denounces Russia for 'Indefensible' Invasion of Ukraine

The U.S. senator from Vermont called for "serious sanctions on Putin and his oligarchs" in response to the Kremlin's latest moves.

Kenny Stancil

Sen. Bernie Sanders on Tuesday called for the U.S. and its allies to impose heavy sanctions on Russian President Vladimir Putin and other oligarchs in the country as he condemned Moscow's escalating military aggression toward Ukraine.

"Vladimir Putin's latest invasion of Ukraine is an indefensible violation of international law, regardless of whatever false pretext he offers," Sanders (I-Vt.) said in a statement. "There has always been a diplomatic solution to this situation. Tragically, Putin appears intent on rejecting it."

In addition to backing sanctions, Sanders said preparations must be made to accommodate refugees displaced by the conflict and called for investments in a global clean energy transition to fight the climate crisis and disempower "authoritarian petrostates" worldwide.

Sanders' remarks came after U.S. President Joe Biden—in concert with officials in the United Kingdom and the European Union—moved to impose new economic sanctions on Russia following the Kremlin's deployment of troops into two breakaway territories in eastern Ukraine, which Putin on Monday formally recognized as independent.

To prevent Putin's effort to expand his country's presence in the Donbas region from descending into a broader military conflict, peace advocates in the U.S. and abroad continue to urge the Biden administration to double-down on diplomatic efforts, as Common Dreams reported earlier Tuesday.

"The United States," said Sanders, "must now work with our allies and the international community to impose serious sanctions on Putin and his oligarchs, including denying them access to the billions of dollars that they have stashed in European and American banks."

"The U.S. and our partners must also prepare for a worse scenario by helping Ukraine's neighbors care for refugees fleeing this conflict," Sanders continued, alluding to the possibility that Russian lawmakers' approval of the use of military force outside the country could lead to a full-fledged war.

In the wake of recent developments in Ukraine, oil prices surged to nearly $100 per barrel on Tuesday, the highest in more than seven years, and European gas futures spiked by as much as 13.8%.

While the U.S. fossil fuel industry is expected to benefit from Germany halting approval of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline due to Russia's recent actions, people in Europe—already struggling with skyrocketing energy bills—are bracing for even higher costs in the case that Moscow restricts gas exports.

"In the longer term," said Sanders, "we must invest in a global green energy transition away from fossil fuels, not only to combat climate change, but to deny authoritarian petrostates the revenues they require to survive."

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